Joe tackled various topics during his evening institute classes for Liverpool Education Committee back in the 1970s. He never used notes. He simply scribbled down his thoughts in advance and committed them to memory. But once he arrived at his classroom in Holt Comprehensive school, Childwall, everything was spontaneous.
But he did always kick off by making the following point:
‘The object of this course in extra-sensory perception is to take histories of paranormal occurrences, present as many alternative explanations as can be found and allow each of you to choose what seems to be the most reasonable explanation.’
(Most of his observations on telepathy, Spiritualism and other so-called psychic phenomena are already covered in ‘The Power of the Mind’)
However, one evening in November 1974 when my own students had abandoned me, I crept along to Joe’s room, only to find it bursting at the seams. Finding myself a quiet little corner I sat down and began to take notes. On that occasion, he was discussing whether telepathy could travel through time. As you probably realise, Joe was blessed with very strong telepathic abilities. My old shorthand notebook is dog-eared and yellow with age but I shall transcribe the notes verbatim, as follows:
Can telepathy travel through time? Who knows? But the following incident would appear to point in that direction. It relates to a young woman called Pat, a member of my staff who lived in Birkenhead.
We were chatting together in my office on a pleasant June morning in 1970, when a clear vision of a clock appeared before me.
The fingers pointed to 13.02 on the following Monday, and I had an instinctive feeling that Pat needed to be warned about something. Then a whole series of images came into my head.
‘At exactly two minutes past one next Monday,’ I told her. ‘You’re going to walk out of your house with your small daughter.’
I described in detail the outfit Pat would be wearing, right down to the silver charm bracelet. The coat was a powder blue with fur around the hem. The bracelet had a new charm in the shape of a tiny Indian temple.
To say Pat was surprised is putting it mildly. She had bought the coat three days before and not yet worn it. Same with the bracelet. Her mother had given it to her only the previous night.
I continued to describe several images entering my head in quick succession.
‘When you and your daughter come out of the house, you plan to turn left and walk down a hill. ‘About half way down, there’s a house with net curtains and a pensioner sitting on the doorstep. You always have a word with him.’
‘Yes, I do,’ said Pat, looking very surprised.
‘At the bottom of the hill, where the street joins the main road, there’s a shop, but I can’t see what it’s selling. There doesn’t appear to be anything in the window.’
‘No, there’s nothing in it,’ she told me. ‘The shop is closed. It’s been turned into a house.’
‘Pat,’ I said, urgently. ‘When you turn that corner round by the shop, I can see nothing at all. Just blackness for you and your daughter.’
Goose pimples ran down her spine. So far, everything I told her had been absolutely correct and she was amazed at having clothes and jewellery described in such detail when she knew I couldn’t possibly have seen them.
‘But I’m planning to go to London for my holidays on Monday. The time you’ve mentioned is about the time I shall have to leave to catch the train. So what am I to do?’
Not surprisingly, Pat feared both for the life of her eight-year-old daughter Susan and for herself.
‘Don’t walk down that hill,’ I urged her. ‘Take a taxi from your home instead. Get the driver to turn right and go up the other way so that you’ll approach the station from a different direction. You’ll still be involved in an accident during the day, but neither of you will be hurt.’ And as if that weren’t enough to make her take the taxi, I found myself saying: ‘I don’t know where you’ll be this Friday afternoon, but you’ll be sitting behind a plate glass window. You’ll look through it and see a pedestrian crossing and a lollipop man on the pavement. A little girl will run from behind and a car will knock her over.’
Although I didn’t know it at the time, Pat had already made a hairdressing appointment for the Friday, but she chose not to tell me about it until much later.
It was a fortnight before I saw her again, when she returned from her holiday. She recalled the sequence of events.
Yes, she had visited her hairdresser as arranged, on the Friday. Sitting under the drier, she had looked through the plate glass window and seen a pedestrian crossing and a lollipop man on the pavement just as I had described.
But before she could do anything a small blonde, curly-haired girl – about the same age as her own daughter Susan – had run from behind the lollipop man into the path of a car and been knocked down. Thankfully, the child’s injuries were not serious.
No prizes for guessing that Pat wasn’t taking any chances after that!
On the following Monday, she and her daughter did take a taxi to the station as I had suggested. Susan wondered why they were travelling in the ‘wrong’ direction, but her mother simply told her it was better that way.
Pat recalled what happened then:
‘The driver seemed to be travelling a bit too quickly for comfort and I felt anxious. He must have sensed how I felt because I saw him look at his speedometer before slowing down. Not long after that we were involved in a skid and landed up on the pavement. Fortunately, no-one was hurt but if it had happened a few minutes – even a few seconds – earlier, we might all have been killed, because right in front of us was a big pile-up involving several vehicles.’
. . .
(A lively question and answer session followed with students raising issues about Spiritualism, telekinesis, astral projection, suspended animation and all sorts of other inexplicable phenomena.
Before continuing with his talk Joe always invited questions from his students. The topics under discussion usually provided the basis of the following week’s study.)
. . .
And now let me, then, tell you about Bert (not his real name).
In November 1970 Bert was a guest at a dinner party I was attending in a friend’s home. He was a complete stranger and I knew nothing of his background.
Suddenly, I asked him if he was planning a long road journey.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I’m driving to Southampton three days before Christmas to pick up my daughter.’
Then, without knowing why, I asked: ‘ Are your tyres all right? This is to do with skidding.’
‘As a matter of fact my tyres are very bad, but I want to make them last until the New Year because of all the expense attached to Christmas.’
A disturbing image began to form in my mind.
‘Right, then. I’ll tell you what I see, though I have to make it clear that I’m not giving any advice.’
‘Go on,’ he encouraged.
‘I can see a long road disappearing into a mist and beside it a red warning triangle. There’s a black Jaguar upside down and a dark saloon with registration letters DBE. I can’t see the number, but the car is slewed right round. And now… I see another light-coloured saloon.’
‘Go on,’ repeated Bert.
‘I see a door. On it is a Christmas wreath, but it keeps changing to a funeral wreath.’
Bert’s wife looked shocked. She reminded him of a friend who’d been killed when his black Jaguar skidded and overturned three years earlier. The registration letters I’d just given them represented Lincolnshire. Their friend had lived in that county. His car had skidded on the A74 during a holiday in Scotland, they said.
As a result of what I had told him, Bert changed his mind about the trip. And he changed his tyres. He advised his daughter to travel home by train.
Again, as in Pat’s case that I’ve just told you about, this looks like a glimpse into the future – changed in this instance, because Bert didn’t make the trip. But there is another, and possibly more logical, explanation.
Isn’t it possible that his subconscious mind had considered the facts: friend killed as the result of a skid, his own bad tyres, long car journey, icy roads. All of these facts added up to just one thing. Danger.
A false sense of economy had made his conscious mind suppress the warning signals, preventing them from passing through from the subconscious. The result: mental conflict. The increased strength of the signals made them easy to be picked up telepathically.
I merely handed them to Bert in such a way that he could no longer ignore them. After all, everything I saw Bert must have already known.
An interesting case, this, because of the alternatives.
We have seen two possible explanations, but there is a third.
Spiritualists would interpret these phenomena as direct messages from the dead, as they do during seances. But what Spiritualists tend to overlook is the fact that although the medium might not know the individuals with whom they appear to be making contact, someone else in the room does.
So, isn’t telepathy a simpler answer?
(Short break for refreshments in the school canteen, but Joe’s big mug of tea remained untouched because his students continued to buzz around him like bees around a honey pot. Questions, questions, questions. These enthusiasts never gave him a minute to himself. Joe never complained. He thrived on discussing topics in which he had a lifelong interest.)
Thought waves do seem to have the ability to travel through time.
Let me give you a third example of why I think this may be possible.
Some years ago I was driving from Bolton, in Lancashire to Skegness in Lincolnshire. Because the journey would cover several miles, I set off early on the Sunday morning, in order to return the same night.
Arriving at Little Lever on the outskirts of Bolton, I was just filling up with petrol when my attention was suddenly caught by a blue petrol can in the window of an accessory shop.
Without having any idea of why I felt the urge to do so, I bought the can, filled it and put it in the boot of my car.
Two weeks later, I had to make the same journey. When I returned around two in the morning, it was raining hard. At the beginning of the Doncaster bypass, I noticed a young soldier thumbing a lift. I don’t normally give lifts but, remembering my own army days, I stopped and invited him into the car. I took him to where the motorway rejoined the A1, which again broke from convention because normally I would turn off half way along to go through the town of Goldthorpe.
Dropping the soldier, all I had to do was take a right turn at the next island and return along the motorway. Instead, I found myself driving down a narrow country road. Strangely, I had no desire to turn round and retrace my steps.
After about half a mile, I noticed three people pushing a shooting brake and pulled up in front of them to ask if they had run out of petrol.
Amazed, they said that yes, they had.
So I took the can from the boot and handed it over.
‘I’m not going to thank you,’ said the woman. ‘I’m thanking God for sending you. I’ve been praying for help. We have a baby in the back of the car. He’s cold and hungry. Look.’
Sure enough, the baby was lying in a carry cot, crying.
After leaving the woman, her husband and teenage passenger, I drove on and just a few hundred yards ahead found the perfect place for turning the car.
Back home, I wondered what that family thought when they saw me turn back almost immediately after helping them.
And it set me wondering too…
Had the woman’s prayer for help come through to me because I was the nearest telepathic receiver?
But if that were the case, it raises an even bigger question.
What made me buy the petrol can three weeks before this incident?
The answer would appear to be that telepathy can indeed travel through time.
A guest speaker was booked for the following week. She was to give a talk about psychometry. A clairvoyant would be coming along later in that term.
Two local authors were also lined up – Ramsey Campbell, the award-winning horror-fiction writer and Michael Hardcastle, who wrote children’s books about sport (mainly football). Books by both of these authors are now international best-sellers.